COVID-19 Prevention

Self Care Decisions / COVID-19 Prevention

COVID-19: How to Protect Yourself and Family from Catching It – The Basics

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (very important). Always do before you eat.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if water is not available. Remember: soap and water work better.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth unless your hands are clean. Germs on the hands can get into your body this way.
  • Don’t share glasses, plates or eating utensils.
  • No longer shake hands. Greet others with a smile and a nod.
  • If you or your child need to be seen for an urgent medical problem, do not hesitate to go in. ERs and urgent care sites are safe places. They are well equipped to protect you against the virus. For non-urgent conditions, talk to your doctor’s office first.

Social Distancing and COVID-19 Prevention

    • Avoid any contact with people known to have COVID-19 infection. Avoid talking to or sitting close to them.
    • Social Distancing: try to stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from anyone who is sick, especially if they are coughing. Also called physical distancing. Avoid crowds, because you can’t tell who might be sick.
    • If COVID-19 is widespread in your community, try to stay 6 feet (2 meters) away from everyone outside your family unit.
    • Stay at Home Orders: follow any stay at home (stay in place) orders in your community. Leave your home only for essential needs such as buying food or seeking medical care.
    • After Stay at Home Orders are Lifted: continue social distancing. Also wear a mask when entering any public building. These precautions will be needed for many months. Your state public health department will decide when they are no longer needed.

Face Masks and COVID-19 Prevention

  • Sick patients: must always wear a face mask if need to leave the home. Example: for medical visits. Exception: patients with trouble breathing (CDC). Consider a loose face covering such as a bandana.
  • Well people: as community spread became high, the CDC also recommends face masks or coverings for everyone going outside the home. They are critical if entering a public building, such as a grocery store. Reason: Many people with COVID-19 have no symptoms but can spread the virus.
  • Well People Exceptions: face mask or covering is optional if outdoors and can avoid being within 6 feet of other people. Examples: on an outdoor walk or run.
  • Age Limits: face coverings also are not recommended for children under 2 years (CDC).

Keep Your Body Strong

  • Get your body ready to fight the COVID-19 virus.
  • Get enough sleep (very important).
  • Keep your heart strong. Walk or exercise every day. Take the stairs. Caution: avoid physical exhaustion.
  • Stay well-hydrated.
  • Eat healthy meals. Avoid overeating to deal with your fears.
  • Avoid the over-use of anti-fever medicines. Fever fights infections and ramps up your immune system.

Keep Your Mind Positive

  • Live in the present, not the future. The future is where your needless worries live. Stay positive.
  • Stay positive. Use a mantra to reduce your fears, such as “I am strong, like a bear.”
  • Get outdoors. Take daily walks. Go to a park if you live near one. Being in nature is good for your immune system.
  • Show love. As long as they are well, hug your children and partner frequently. Speak to them in a kind and loving voice. Love strengthens your immune system.
  • Stay in touch. Use regular phone calls and video chats to stay in touch with those you love.
  • “2-Household Bubble.” To reduce social isolation, especially for young children, some families have joined up with one other family for visits. Rules: Both families must agree that they will not have social contacts with any other families. No one in either family can work outside the home. Not approved by CDC but a reasonable family decision.

How to Protect Others – When You or Your Child are Sick

  • Stay home from school or work while sick. Your doctor or local health department will tell you when it is safe to return.
  • Cough and sneeze into your shirt sleeve or inner elbow.  Don’t cough into your hand or the air.
  • If available, sneeze into a tissue and throw it into a trash can.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water. After coughing or sneezing are important times.
  • Don’t share glasses, plates or eating utensils.
  • Wear a face mask when around others.
  • Always wear a face mask if you have to leave your home (such as going to a medical facility). Always call first to get approval and careful directions.
  • Carefully avoid any contact with the elderly and people with weak immune systems or other chronic health problems.

Author: Barton Schmitt, MD, FAAP
Copyright: Copyright 2020. Updated 5/12/2020.
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.